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Calculating the Astronomical Unit (AU), Astronomers observed the Venus transit from various places. Because of the parallax effect, observers like A and B saw Venus's path shifted on the Sun's face. By trigonometry, this shift & the distance between the observers you can determine the distance to Venus. It's about 0.35 AU, so knowing the distance in miles, you can get the length of the AU in miles. Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System"…

Calculating the Astronomical Unit (AU), Astronomers observed the Venus transit from various places. Because of the parallax effect, observers like A and B saw Venus's path shifted on the Sun's face. By trigonometry, this shift & the distance between the observers you can determine the distance to Venus. It's about 0.35 AU, so knowing the distance in miles, you can get the length of the AU in miles. Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System"…

"Black drop effect" observed in transit of Venus by Captain Cook and Charles Green. Observers found it hard to work out when the disk of Venus was just fully within the disk of the Sun. This meant the timings varied considerably from observer to observer. (Armagh Observatory) ©Mona Evans, ©Mona Evans, “Transit of Venus – Captain Cook 1769” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28591.asp

"Black drop effect" observed in transit of Venus by Captain Cook and Charles Green. Observers found it hard to work out when the disk of Venus was just fully within the disk of the Sun. This meant the timings varied considerably from observer to observer. (Armagh Observatory) ©Mona Evans, ©Mona Evans, “Transit of Venus – Captain Cook 1769” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28591.asp

Captain Cook memorial at Venus Point, Tahiti. He headed an expedition sent by the Royal Society of England to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. This is where they did the main observations. (Photo: Frederick Sears) ©Mona Evans, “Transit of Venus – Captain Cook 1769” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28591.asp

Captain Cook memorial at Venus Point, Tahiti. He headed an expedition sent by the Royal Society of England to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. This is where they did the main observations. (Photo: Frederick Sears) ©Mona Evans, “Transit of Venus – Captain Cook 1769” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28591.asp

Transit of Venus 2012. A view of the transit across the rising Sun in Italy. (Credit: Niki Giada) ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus 2012. A view of the transit across the rising Sun in Italy. (Credit: Niki Giada) ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus 2004 projected onto card. Projection through a telescope or binocular is a safe way of viewing solar events. (Photo: Francis G. Graham, Kent State University) ©Mona Evans, “Absolute Beginners – Observing the Sun”  http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art40643.asp

Transit of Venus 2004 projected onto card. Projection through a telescope or binocular is a safe way of viewing solar events. (Photo: Francis G. Graham, Kent State University) ©Mona Evans, “Absolute Beginners – Observing the Sun” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art40643.asp

Le Gentil's travels. The map shows three of his voyages. One is the futile trip in 1761 on La Sylphide, where he saw the transit but couldn't take measurements. The second shows his trip to Manila, where government hostility made him change his mind about observing the transit of Venus there. The third was his final trip back to Europe, which seems to stop worryingly short of Spain. ©Mona Evans, "Le Gentil - Heroic Failure" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art4615.asp

Le Gentil's travels. The map shows three of his voyages. One is the futile trip in 1761 on La Sylphide, where he saw the transit but couldn't take measurements. The second shows his trip to Manila, where government hostility made him change his mind about observing the transit of Venus there. The third was his final trip back to Europe, which seems to stop worryingly short of Spain. ©Mona Evans, "Le Gentil - Heroic Failure" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art4615.asp

Transit of Venus June 8, 2004. The planet almost looks like a bit of cloud, but you can find it on the right just below center. (Photo: David Cortner) ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus June 8, 2004. The planet almost looks like a bit of cloud, but you can find it on the right just below center. (Photo: David Cortner) ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus 2012. The picture catches the third contact (lower left) amidst the clouds on Mount Dandenong, Australia. (Credit: andrewm2008 on Flickr) ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus 2012. The picture catches the third contact (lower left) amidst the clouds on Mount Dandenong, Australia. (Credit: andrewm2008 on Flickr) ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus 2012. Picture of the transit taken from the Exploratorium live feed. A calcium line solar filter gives it the cool blue color. ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

Transit of Venus 2012. Picture of the transit taken from the Exploratorium live feed. A calcium line solar filter gives it the cool blue color. ©Mona Evans, "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

IMAGE: Venus in sole visa (1639), the account of a transit of Venus observed by Jeremiah Horrocks. It was printed in 1662 by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius along with Mercurius in sole visa, his account of a transit of Mercury. "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

IMAGE: Venus in sole visa (1639), the account of a transit of Venus observed by Jeremiah Horrocks. It was printed in 1662 by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius along with Mercurius in sole visa, his account of a transit of Mercury. "Transit of Venus - Measuring the Solar System" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28229.asp

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